The Internet allows individuals to instantly access a wide array of information, videos and photographs. In many cases, an honest mistake or pure curiosity may result in an individual coming across websites or forums that are sexually explicit. Individuals who visit websites and forums that include images or videos involving
child pornography may find themselves facing criminal charges.

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that sentencing guidelines used in cases where an individual is convicted on child pornography charges vary greatly. The commission’s study showed that, while sentencing guidelines for child pornography charges exist, many judges do not follow them. Instead, the majority of judges choose to impose more harsh sentences regardless of the specific circumstances involved in a case.

As a result, many individuals face longer than normal sentences behind bars which ultimately cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. In response to their findings, officials at the U.S. Sentencing Commission are calling upon Congress to make changes to current guidelines in an effort to better discern between individuals who are serious versus minor offenders.

When looking at potential changes to child pornography sentencing guidelines, the commission recommended Congress take into account things such as the volume of pornographic material seized, whether or not an individual was an active participant in forums and took part in file-sharing activities and the ages of the victims depicted in seized evidence.

Individuals who face charges related to child pornography would be wise to consult with a criminal defense professional who is experienced in handling such matters. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help provide for the best possible legal outcome.

Source: The Washington Post, ”
Study: Sentencing in child porn cases uneven,” Pete Yost, Feb. 28, 2013